OT: US govt seizing phone records from Associated Press


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Gym climber
South of Heaven
May 15, 2013 - 02:00am PT
Every time you think you're being bright or clever and I call you out, you desist into distraction.

That is loaded with humor, although the author doesn't realize it, which makes it even more funny.

Social climber
Falls Church, VA
May 15, 2013 - 08:53am PT
legally, it looks as though doj is protected by the patriot act--haven't examined the fine print, but i don't think this is criminal

the consequences, however, are still huge...barry has lost the trust of the media; without his lapdogs, he's going to have a rough second term

this won't help his relationship with the press:

"During an interview with NPR’s Carrie Johnson on Tuesday, Holder was asked how often his department has obtained such records of journalists’ work.

“I’m not sure how many of those cases … I have actually signed off on,” Holder said. “I take them very seriously. I know that I have refused to sign a few [and] pushed a few back for modifications.”

the ag is "not sure" how many times he's approved the seizure of journalists' phone records?

that can only mean there are SEVERAL more cases still waiting to be discovered...or that he's just stupid

May 15, 2013 - 11:13am PT
John P asked:
"I have been searching for the report of phones being tapped at the Associated Press .... can't find any news article about that....someone help me ?

Here ya are Schmidt. Of interest is the leading democrat and republicans (Harry Reid and Orrin Hatch) are both outraged.
"Reid, the Senate's top Democrat, told reporters at the Capitol, "I don't know who did it, why it was done, but it's inexcusable, and there is no way to justify this."
That should tell you something of the gravity of the issue so that you can ignore idiots like mechrist running around calling people morons for being concerned. We all should be deeply concerned about this. It's an issue of substance that is deeper than the usual Repub/dem discourse divide


"By David Ingram and Tabassum Zakaria

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said on Tuesday he did not make the controversial decision to secretly seize telephone records of the Associated Press but defended his department's actions in the investigation of what he called a "very, very serious leak."

The decision to seek phone records of one of the world's largest news-gathering organizations was made by Deputy Attorney General Jim Cole, Holder said.

Holder, speaking at a press conference, said he recused himself from the matter to avoid a potential conflict of interest because he was interviewed by the FBI as part of the same leak investigation that targeted the AP records.

That seizure, denounced by critics as a gross intrusion into freedom of the press, has created an uproar in Washington and led to questions over how the Obama administration is balancing the need for national security with privacy rights.

Combined with a separate furor over the Internal Revenue Service's targeting of conservative political groups for extra scrutiny, it also is stoking fears of excessive government intrusion under President Barack Obama.

The White House has said it had no advance knowledge of the IRS or Justice Department actions.

Lawmakers from both parties on Tuesday criticized the Justice Department's decision to obtain the AP records. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called the action "inexcusable."

But in a letter to AP president Gary Pruitt, Cole on Tuesday defended the department's unusual action against a member of the media, saying it was a necessary step in the year-old criminal probe of leaks of classified information.

A law enforcement official said the probe is related to information in a May 7, 2012, AP story about an operation, conducted by the CIA and allied intelligence agencies, that stopped a Yemen-based al Qaeda plot to detonate a bomb on an airplane headed for the United States.

Cole declined Pruitt's request to return the records.

"We strive in every case to strike the proper balance between the public's interest in the free flow of information and the public's interest in the protection of national security and effective enforcement of our laws," he wrote. "We believe we have done so in this matter."

Pruitt, in a statement responding to Cole's letter, said "it does not adequately address our concerns," which include that the subpoena's scope was "overbroad under the law" and that the AP was not notified in advance.

The AP story at issue, he said, contradicted White House assertions that there was no credible threat to the American people in May 2012 around the first anniversary of the killing of al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.

Cole disclosed that investigators conducted more than 550 interviews and reviewed tens of thousands of documents in the probe before seizing the toll records of AP phone calls.

Holder said he did not have specific knowledge about the formulation of the subpoena for the AP records, but does not believe the Justice Department did anything wrong.


"This was ... a very, very serious leak," he said. "I have been a prosecutor since 1976 and I have to say that this is among, if not the most serious, it is within the top two or three most serious leaks that I have ever seen," Holder said, speaking at an unrelated press conference on Medicare fraud.

"It put the American people at risk, and that is not hyperbole," he said. "And trying to determine who was responsible for that, I think, required very aggressive action."

In June 2012, Holder ordered two U.S. attorneys to pursue separate leak investigations, the subject of which he did not identify.

The probes followed calls by Congress to crack down on national security leaks after the Associated Press report on the Yemen plot and a New York Times report on details of the Stuxnet computer virus that sabotaged Iran's nuclear centrifuges.

The AP said it was informed last Friday that the Justice Department had gathered records for more than 20 phone lines assigned to the news agency and its reporters, covering April and May of last year.

Pruitt, in a letter to Holder on Monday, called the seizure a "massive and unprecedented intrusion" into news-gathering operations.

Five reporters and an editor involved in the AP story about the Yemen plot were among those whose phone records were obtained by the government, the AP said.

Reuters reported that on May 7, 2012, Obama's top White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan, who is now CIA director, held a small, private teleconference to brief former counterterrorism advisers who are TV commentators and told them the plot was never a threat to U.S. public safety because Washington had "inside control" over it.

One of the former officials on the call later said on network TV that the U.S. government had indicated implicitly that "they had somebody on the inside who wasn't going to let it happen."

U.S. and European authorities later acknowledged the alleged plot had been discovered because an informant had been planted inside the conspiracy by MI5, Britain's principal counterterrorism agency.

The original AP story made no mention of an undercover informant or "control" over the operation by the United States or its allies.

Brennan acknowledged during his Senate confirmation hearing that he had been interviewed by prosecutors in connection with two leak inquiries, including the Yemen probe. He told Congress that he had not leaked any classified information.

Several prominent Republicans last year called for a crackdown on leaks, with some suggesting the White House was orchestrating them to burnish Obama's security credentials and chances for re-election in November.


Senator Orrin Hatch, a Republican on the Judiciary Committee, when asked whether Republicans had the type of action taken against the AP in mind, said: "No, I don't think anybody wants to take away the freedom of the press. ... You can't be free if you've got government monitoring your calls, and your interviews. How is that a free press?"

Reid, the Senate's top Democrat, told reporters at the Capitol, "I don't know who did it, why it was done, but it's inexcusable, and there is no way to justify this."

The Obama administration has been aggressive in combating national security leaks, conducting at least a half-dozen prosecutions - more than under all other previous presidents combined, according to tallies by multiple news organizations.

Mark Corallo, a Justice Department spokesman between 2002 and 2005, said that during his tenure, the rule was that any request from any part of the Justice Department for the issuing of subpoenas against a news organization had to be submitted to his office for approval.

Corallo said that of "dozens" of requests from prosecutors for subpoenas directed against news organizations, he approved one during his tenure.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said that President Barack Obama "believes that the press as a rule needs to have an unfettered ability to pursue investigative journalism."

"He is also committed, as president and as a citizen, to the proposition that we cannot allow classified information, that can do harm to our national security interests or do harm to individuals, to be leaked," Carney said.

"Certainly there have been lots of presidents upset about leaks and there have been a number of chief executives who have gone to rather extraordinary lengths," said Darrell West, director of Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution think tank.

"But I think people believed that Obama was more committed to civil liberties so it's actually more shocking that he did it rather that someone like (George W.) Bush and (Richard) Nixon because people had higher expectations of him," he said.

(Additional reporting by Susan Cornwell, Jennifer Saba, Mark Hosenball and Mark Felsenthal; Writing by Karey Van Hall; Editing by Warren Strobel, Cynthia Osterman and Jim Loney)"

regards to all.

SF bay area
May 15, 2013 - 11:16am PT
Er, um, that article is about AP phone records, not AP phone taps, Couchmaster. Keep searching.

Social climber
the Wastelands
May 15, 2013 - 12:27pm PT
"I have been searching for the report of phones being tapped at the Associated Press .... can't find any news article about that....someone help me ?

Here ya are Schmidt

thanks, couchmaster

but please realize that you have NOT provided ANY proof that PHONES WERE TAPPED

get it yet?

Trad climber
May 15, 2013 - 12:35pm PT
Another stupid tread.

Courts order phone records all the time, big deal.

May 15, 2013 - 12:35pm PT
You guys should be talking heads on a TV show.

You people are the same as all the MSM talking heads.

You know nothing except what you're fed and regurgitate it here.

Just stupid cows in the pasture waiting to be slaughtered .....

May 15, 2013 - 12:44pm PT

Speaking to reporters Tuesday afternoon, Attorney General Eric Holder revealed that he recused himself months, maybe years ago, from the Associated Press [AP] phone line investigation. It was revealed yesterday that the Department of Justice had tapped 20 work and personal phone lines of AP reporters and editors due to a suspected national security leak.

"I recused myself from this matter...it was early on," Holder said, unable to give an exact date.

By law, Holder is responsible for signing off on subpoenas that would allow such an intrusive invasion of privacy and on free speech. However, because he recused himself from the case, his Deputy Attorney General James Cole signed off on the case and the subpoenas. As a reminder, Cole was also embroiled in the Fast and Furious scandal with Holder.

"I don't know what the circumstances were here....I frankly don't have the knowledge of those facts," Holder said when asked about the AP phone tapping, adding that he believes DOJ officials followed all proper subpoena procedures. "This administration has put a real value on the rule of law."

The law requires Justice Department probes into reporter communications be very limited and precise. In the AP case, 20 phone lines, both personal and private, were monitored.

Feel better now Montieth and Hedge? And you're welcome John P.

SF bay area
May 15, 2013 - 12:48pm PT
That's townhall adding the word 'tapping'. They get confused about records and tapping as well.

Why don't you find an AP source that says they were tapped instead of records taken. Surely they would complain specifically about tapping right?

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
May 15, 2013 - 12:49pm PT
Have you heard about Holder's latest program? Yup, it had to be - Fast and Spurious.

May 15, 2013 - 12:51pm PT
Appears you are correct.

Social climber
the Wastelands
May 15, 2013 - 12:54pm PT
Appears you are correct.

you're welcome

Social climber
the Wastelands
May 15, 2013 - 01:07pm PT
"important to note that nothing was actually tapped, the gov't didn't actually listen in, just obtained the phone records"

oh so what

facts are stupid things

I will believe what I want to believe

so quit shoving your liberal truthy facts at me

Trad climber
May 15, 2013 - 01:10pm PT
Facts ------ what do facts have to do with anything.

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
May 15, 2013 - 01:13pm PT
^^^ Certainly nothing in this discussion.

SF bay area
May 15, 2013 - 01:24pm PT
Technically, the AP did not give up the records, the telephone company did under a subpoena without AP knowledge. The AP was not informed till recently. This apparently is legal under a national security clause, but scandalous none the less.

Social climber
the Wastelands
May 15, 2013 - 01:27pm PT
the ONLY reason to go after the press's records is suspicion on leaking classified material

apparently the Justice Department was alerted by an intelligence arm of our government that certain reporters were being given classified material and were publicly posting it

that is bad joo joo

and IF that is indeed what is going on then yes there is good reason to request records

and if it is not then there will be hell to pay

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
Topic Author's Reply - May 15, 2013 - 04:35pm PT
Technology to help the press protect the anonymity of its sources, is catching up. Interesting article, and not nearly enough exploration of the curious timing or circumstances of a suicide:

This leaves a bad itch for conspiracy theorists to scratch.

Aug 16, 2013 - 02:02pm PT
^^^^You have to admire Faux News' ability to generate anger among its viewers over bogus scandals. They really are quite good at it.
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